Subject: DemNow: Christopher Hitchens on Henry Kissinger

Note: The February (on newsstands now) and March 2001 issues of Harper's Magazine feature a series by Christopher Hitchens on the case for charging Kissinger with War Crimes. Part 2 will feature an extensive section on East Timor. for a link to listen to the RealAudio version of the broadcast.


In Indonesia: In the first successful prosecution for the destruction of East Timor in 1999, an international court sentenced a pro-Indonesian militiaman to 12 years in prison for murder. Joao Fernandes, 22, testified during his trial that Indonesian army officers had given him a samurai sword and ordered him to kill independence supporters.

Hundreds of people died and most of East Timor was destroyed when the Indonesian army and its local auxiliaries went on a rampage after voters decided to break away from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored independence referendum in Aug. 1999.

In Vietnam: Decades after the war on Southeast Asia ended, the United Nations estimates that 3.5 million mines lie buried in battlefields across Vietnam, and explosions still kill people every year, including children. The country is also strewn with bombs weighing up to 3,000 pounds, cluster bombs and live grenades.

In Cambodia: More than 40 per cent of what was once farmland is now a wasteland covered with mines, and land is urgently needed for 360,000 refugees returning from border camps where they were displaced by decade of strife.

In Chile: Human rights lawyers asked a Chilean judge to arrest and charge Augusto Pinochet with rights abuses on Wednesday, one day after the former dictator was questioned about violence during his 1973-1990 regime. Judge Juan Guzman wants to charge Pinochet with planning the kidnappings and murders of more than 70 leftists who fell victim to the "Death Caravan," a military squad that traveled Chile in the weeks after Pinochet's 1973 coup to oust socialist President Salvador Allende.

The transcript of the interrogation quotes Pinochet as saying: "I did not order anyone to be killed."

In 1975, he told a different tale: The general boasted, "Never a leaf moves in Chile without my knowing of it."

What do these news stories have in common. They are linked by the legacy of one man. Henry Kissinger.

To many, Kissinger is one of the outstanding diplomats of the century, to others, a war criminal. Compton's encyclopedia calls him the most influential foreign policy figure in the administrations of United States presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Secretary of state from 1973 to 1977, the encyclopedia continues, Kissinger was the most notable exponent of shuttle diplomacy, making frequent trips overseas to solve complex international problems.

Indeed no one was more impressed with Kissinger's ability to solve problems than the doctor himself. "There cannot be a crisis next week," Kissinger once said. "My schedule is already full."

When Tom Lehrer was asked why he quit writing satirical songs, he replied that after Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, there was nothing left to satirize. There remains, however, much to discuss.

That is what Christopher Hitchens does in a biting two-part article in Harpers Magazine. The first installment appears in the February issue.

Guest: Christopher Hitchens, a columnist for The Nation magazine and Vanity Fair and author of numerous books including No One Left To Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family.

see also: Henry Kissinger Remembers Some of the Past

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